How U of M’s dormitories compare to a luxury resort

The University of Michigan's scenic golf course above Ann Arbor is one of the perks for students "vacationing" on campus

The University of Michigan’s scenic golf course above Ann Arbor is one of the perks for students “vacationing” on campus

After summer vacation the next “trip” for some teenagers may be moving in to their college dormitory for the first time. Make no mistake – as a parent, you’re along for this ride, too. 6,000 18-year olds ask for housing each summer at the University of Michigan, according to Amir Baghdadchi, a housing official with the school. Move-in day is somewhat different that checking into a luxury resort. Parents, before driving their young student and a car full of TV’s, Xboxes, linens and laundry baskets – all the things you would not need to take to any hotel – can download a printable parking permit to hang in the rear view mirror while unloading. “This communicates to the police that you are under a lot of stress and they should stay 50-feet away from your car,” Baghdadchi joked.

While the residence halls don’t have bellmen or valet parking, they do deploy student “move-in makers” with rolling carts to speed up the mass settling process. Baghdadchi insisted they’re enthusiastic and that he’d seen them surround a car which was merely stopped at a red light. Some students will not be as excited about the move-in. “The rooms are 12×12 rectangles with modular furniture. There is no anteroom, vestibule or den,” said Baghdadchi, who insists a dorm room assignment is random and final, not “the opening bid in a summer-long negotiation.”

As for roommates, the pairings are random, too. “We could try issuing surveys to match students up, but they’d be useless. For instance, every applicant would describe themselves as ‘very clean.’ What they really mean is they like it when someone makes it very clean,” said Baghdadchi with a grin while parents in the room for his orientation speech nodded in concurrence. Daily chambermaids and turn down service with a chocolate on your pillow in the dorms? Uh, no.

The closest thing to a concierge in the dorm is the student community advisor who mans the front desk and might just know the bus schedule or whether you got mail if you ask nicely. And before a student looks to see whether the little soap and shampoo bottles provided are by Gilchrst and Soames or Penhaligon, they’d better first find their bathroom – which is a community affair down the hall not only without towel warmers, but also without towels. And by the way they’re “BYOS”: bring your own shampoo.

Late night room service if you miss the nearly constant buffet in the cafeteria? Popcorn in your microwave…if you brought both popcorn and a microwave.

Claudia Miller, from the University’s counseling and psychological services department, said while there may not be amenities, there will be lessons. “Getting along with roommates, connecting with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and the self-esteem that comes from conquering loneliness when living away from home for the first time;” these are the lessons of “Hotel College.”

Some student residents are closer to home than others, particularly over in East Lansing at Michigan State University.

“About 50-percent of our out-of-state students are international. 72-percent of all students are from Michigan,” says Jim Cotter, admissions director. That makes MSU a home away from home close to home for more Michigan students than any other.

Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at or via His talk show can be heard and seen weekday mornings in Lansing on 92.1 FM and Fox 47 TV.

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